Our Vacation Is All Planned! And Now……We Wait

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who feels that the planning of a vacation is almost, or sometimes more exciting than going on the trip itself. There’s so much more that’s involved with setting up the perfect trip. Even more so if you’re planning a trip using points and miles.

I’ve been planning our trip to Germany for close to a year and I’ve hit a milestone. All of our major travel plans are set. The last one happened earlier this week when the message I’d been hoping for showed up in my email at 11:42 PM (while I was asleep)

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The last puzzle piece was finally in place.

Now what?

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Help! Where Should We Stay In Munich?

Sharon and I are headed to a (hopefully) epic trip to visit German Christmas Markets or more accurately Christkindlesmarkt in German. It will be a short trip and we’ve decided to hit just a few cities. We’ll be in Frankfurt since our arriving and departing flights are from there. I’ve tentatively decided on staying at the Le Meriden Parkhotel Frankfurt because of its proximity to the train lines and while Ben from One Mile at a Time said it had a “shabby chic” vibe, it sounds like the type of hotel we’d love.

The other city we’re visiting is Munich and trying to find a hotel is driving me crazy.

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How I Got Flying Blue To Open Up Phantom Award Space

I’ve been looking at flights from Germany to the U.S. for our trip this winter. I already booked our flights to Germany on Singapore business class from New York but I figured I’d book the return later. Problem is that I can’t figure out our itinerary for the trip until I know which city we’re flying home from. That was incentive enough to have me look into finding flights, preferably award flights in business class.

My flight preference would be the non-stop flight on Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Orlando but since award seats tend not to open up until last minute, that won’t work with our plans. We won’t fly on United so options including their planes is a non-starter.

I started looking into flights on KLM or Air France. Both of them use the Flying Blue loyalty program and even though they have variable pricing on award tickets, they still have reasonable rates for many of their flights.

Much to my surprise, besides finding several options flying through either Paris or Amsterdam, a flight from Frankfurt-Detroit-Orlando was showing up. This flight was on two Delta planes and had decent times for arrival and departure and reasonable connection time.

I decided to try and book it.

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I Used Points From All Three Banks And We’re Flying To Germany On Singapore Airlines!

It’s not often that I get excited about a flight. Remember, I’m the person who proudly wrote how we’re over flying in business class “just because we can.” However when all of the puzzle pieces fell into place and allowed me to book a flight I had my eyes set on for forever, I had to pull the trigger.

Here’s the post I wrote about how I wanted to book a flight on Singapore Airlines from New York – JFK to Frankfurt. I had the flight on waitlist for saver space but I kept checking to see if anything opened up. Saver space never showed up but one day when I logged in, I saw that tickets were available to book at the Advantage level.

Under the new Singapore Airlines chart, a flight from the East Coast to Europe costs 72,000 KrisFlyer Miles at the Saver level and 85,000 miles at the Advantage level. If I was willing to pay 72,000 miles for a ticket, what’s an extra 13,000 miles a ticket, really?

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Want To Leave A Country? There’s A Tax For That

There are many things you’ll consider when choosing which foreign country to visit but I bet one thing you usually wouldn’t think about is how much you’ll need to pay to leave the country and return home. Yep, governments have realized that an easy way to collect money from tourists (and their own residents, as well), is to charge a fee when leaving the country. Sure in some countries it’s called a tax, in other’s it a duty and you’ll even see it referred to as a fee, but make no mistake, they’re all ways to have you pay money so you can leave the country.

The amount of these, let’s call them fees, varies greatly from country to country. Japan recently added a departure fee of ¬•1000, (about $9 USD), for people leaving the country. Australia charges a fee of A$60 ($42 USD) and Fiji charges a F$200 ($93.68 USD) fee to all departing passengers.

One reason you need to know the departure fee is that airlines will often charge you this fee when redeeming miles for an award ticket. Since it’s not considered part of the airfare cost from the airline, they pass the charge onto you.

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